Two steps forward, one step back.
Returning home after a month spent on the road, Utah Royals FC have a big midweek match against Seattle Reign FC. There’s a lot to set up for this one.
Applying the Press
We’ve wondered about it for months, and then it happened. Christen Press and her Red Stars teammate Samantha have arrived in Utah. There’s a lot of potential in how the U.S. Women’s National Team star can change the attack for the Royals, but there’s also a lot that remains to be seen. How will she adjust to the altitude? How will she fit in with Laura Harvey’s tactical scheme? Will she be able to start or come off the bench? While we all want fireworks (which are being lit after the match), we may need to be a little patient before the attack truly catches fire.
Facing the past
It’s something that many supporters of NWSL have been anticipating. Utah vs Seattle. Laura vs Vlatko. The FC Kansas City players on the URFC roster are up against the coach that led many of them to two consecutive league championships, both times defeating the coach who directs them now. Both coaches may be able to squeeze a little tactical advantage out of knowing the tendencies of their former players, though both teams have changed a lot since last year.
On the Seattle side, Megan Rapinoe, Allie Long, Rumi Utsugi, and Jodie Taylor all make the team very strong in the attack, which has the second highest number of shots on goal in the league. It’s going to test the Royals defensive unit, which has had some struggle in recent weeks. Johnson will help with that, and when Press is on the field, her offensive presence can ease some of the pressure on the defense.
Chasing the future
This is a big turning point for the team. It represents the beginning of the second half of the season, with twelve games behind and twelve more ahead. A win on Wednesday would move the Royals from sixth to third in the standings, and it would be a big step forward as they prepare to host Sky Blue FC on Saturday. This could be a six-point week for the team, and the momentum surge leading into visits to Portland and Seattle coming up is very important. It’s there for the players to grab, and they need to make the most of it.
When: Wednesday, June 27th, 8:00 PM MT
Where: Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UT
Weather: Sunny, 90 degrees
Broadcast: KMYU, KSL (app), go90, ESPN 700 (radio)
Referee: Malik Badawi